"Unlike many painters of the Hudson River School, Martin Johnson Heade chose simple, unassuming natural sites as subject matter for his landscapes. While artists such as Cole and Cropsey were attracted to monumental subjects such as Niagara Falls or more ruggedly inspired locales such as the Catskills, Heade was enamored with the quiet, contemplative quality of marshlands found along the eastern seaboard. That the novelty of these admittedly simple sites did not wear off for Heade or for his patrons is amazing. One reason may be that the Adirondack and White Mountains, Lake George, and the Newport beaches were becoming increasingly popular as tourist attractions, but marshes like Newburyport's still had much of the quality of wilderness that first attracted Hudson River School painters. Marshes are beyond human control: the grass grows without cultivation and largely unnoticed; even when harvesting is in progress the marshland changes little. Because the grass is high and because no roads lead through the boggy soil, few workers and hardly any onlookers venture there. As in the scenes of the tropics he was then producing, Heade becomes the viewer's ambassador to a part of the world that few have ever observed." (American Paradise, New York, 1987, p. 178)
This painting will be included in Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr.'s forthcoming catalogue raisonn of the works of Martin Johnson Heade.